Originally uploaded by nfujita.

Doing research seems to me quite mysterious unless you already know how to do it. As Roth (2005) notes, various scholars “have come to realize that we can only know about a practice that we already know in practice” (p.ix).

I’m currently trying to figure out what there is to see in the wealth of data I have. I have a lot of data. I think it is good data, but sometimes I find it really frustrating and can hardly bear to look at it. Partly, I’m not sure that what I’m seeing is what others would see, and partly, I’m really compulsive about justifying everything I see.

I usually experience this kind of uncertainty and frustration at this phase of the research process. Knowing that I feel this way at this stage does not make it any less frustrating! Clare suggested that when I get stuck, I should go look at the literature or work on other kinds of data analysis and just keep switching back and forth so I keep going. The danger in this is that I really enjoy reading theory, so it is easy for me to get carried away with thinking about theories and how I can explain my research through various lenses. What brings me back to the data are things like research group meetings or writing conference papers that force me to share or make public what I’m finding in the data so far. Getting feedback from research group members is useful. For example, based on feedback I got, I am going to go back to the data with some new strategies.

Using Writely to write a conference proposal for SITE 2006 with Clare and Wendy on Writely was an interesting twist. Usually, when collaborating on papers, drafts are emailed back and forth as Word attachments, taking advantage of the track changes and commenting features. With Writely, each of us set up an account, then I uploaded a Word document, added Clare and Wendy as collaborators, and sent an email to them with a URL to the document. It was a bit slow as it saved changes on a dynamic web page, but I liked that Writely didn’t mark up text horrendously with strikethoughs, and that I didn’t see the “deleted” bubbles to the right of the body text as you do in Word. With Wendy’s help, I set up a RSS feed in Bloglines so that I could see when each of us made changes. Then, within Writely, I could click on a tab that showed me exactly what the changes were. For me, Writely was easier to use that a wiki, but to be honest, I haven’t given myself much time to get used to wiki conventions. I’m a creature of habit–I like writing in Word with EndNote so that I can insert citations as I work–but maybe I’ll adapt to using technology tools like Writely over time.

Roth, W.-M. (2005). Doing Qualitative Research: Praxis of Method. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *